Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Improvised Surprise

I love singing and since September last year have taken part in a choir here in Rome. I have a great time rehearsing and doing concerts with them even if half the time I don't understand what's going on. I speak good Italian but if you put 25 very opinionated Italians who are passionate about the same thing in a small room and you get controlled chaos. I have learnt to sit there and smile serenely, waiting for the music to start while all aroud me arguments and mini-debates break out, the director shouts and people take the odd call on their phones.

This may not be like the uptight, disciplined Church of England-style choir that I grew up with but as long as you try and go with the flow it can be damn fun. The other evening I went to see a performance of some local Alpine choirs with a few other members of the group. Afterwards we went for the obligitary Roman slapdish pizza. After we had eaten the suggestions started...I had been to dinner with them before so knew their habit of striking up a song in 4-part harmony when the bill came to the delight (or extreme annoyance) of the other punters. However this time it was suggested we move outside as the already grumpy waiters were looking more sour-faced by the minute and putting chairs on tables.

So we wandered to the nearest piazza in the heart of Rome's student-land, San Lorenzo, and began to sing. Oblivious to the damp cold, the strange looks and lack of all the proper components of the choir we stood in a tight little circle and sang. Gradually we warmed up and the circle widened and let in new drunken friends or admirers, or people with requests. We must have stayed there for an hour or two simply experiencing the joy if singing in harmony together, not really caring if anyone was listening or not (although if we did get a few drunken cheers all the better). Eventually we decided it was time to hit the road and wandered back to our respective cars singing "Goodnight, well it's time to go".

It was a truly wonderful experience, and totally unique. I love the fact that my fellow singers are so passionate about song that they forgo having an early night or sitting in a bar and drinking for the experience of sharing music with friends and, if they choose open their ears to some great music, perfect strangers!

To listen to some excerpts from the choir head to www.notevolmente.it

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